MTCIA UPDATE ON HEARING

April 16, 2014

Dear Members:

 

Yesterday,  a hearing was held in Judge Reynolds’ Courtroom regarding motions that were filed for partial summary judgments in our lawsuit against the State of Montana. Judge Reynolds heard oral arguments from plaintiffs and defendants as they related to key provisions of SB 423. Those provisions included:

1. Limit on number of cardholders a provider could serve (3)

2. Warrantless searches by law enforcement

3. Providers not receiving compensation for services rendered

4. Doctors being investigated by Montana Board of Medical examiners for making more than 25 referrals in one year

5. Ban on advertising by providers

Our legal team did an exemplary job of arguing on our behalf to permanently enjoin those provisions of SB 423. The arguments by the state’s attorneys were also vigorous and technical. Both parties agreed to vacate the May 20 hearing if all of the motions for partial summary judgments were ruled upon. Judge Reynolds did say that he would take as much time as he needed in sorting through the legal arguments presented to him.

MTCIA can apply some reasonable “guestimates” as to the timeframes involved in the process of issuing the judge’s rulings. If the judge finds that he cannot reasonably issue his findings within the constraints imposed upon him by the Montana Supreme Court as it relates to any or all of the issues, he will schedule a hearing. We estimate that we will know by June if a hearing will be scheduled. That hearing date may be sometime during late Summer or early Fall. Any rulings that result from that hearing may not happen until the legislature convenes in January 2015. At that point, it will be crucial to get a workable bill passed in the legislature. If we get favorable rulings on all of the issues, the state will automatically appeal to the State Supreme Court. I don’t have to remind you of the costs and possible outcome that such an appeal will have on our case.

We currently owe our attorneys more than $27,000. That does not include yesterday’s hearing costs. We will need to know within the next two weeks whether to instruct our legal team to continue working on our behalf or drop our case against the state. If we are not paid up to that point, I will instruct our attorney to withdraw MTCIA as a plaintiff in this case.

There are currently 300 providers registered with the Montana DPHHS. If the legal costs were shared equally among all those providers it would be $90 each. If the costs were equally shared among the 8000 cardholders, it would cost $3.37 each.

Our board members work tirelessly WITHOUT pay to insure that cardholders have safe access to medical cannabis and that providers are able to remain in business. We are asking that you reciprocate that support by paying the legal expenses so that we can continue to protect your interests.

Our staff wishes you all a happy Easter weekend.

Yours in Solidarity,

Mort Reid

President, MTCIA